Keyword difficulty is an indication of the difficulty of achieving top page positioning on Google for a keyword.
As Google accounts for 90% of searches we gauge keyword difficulty in terms of the competitive strength of the webpages on the top page of Google for the keyword.
The default on Google usually shows the 10 top pages on the first results page for a keyword.
The combined relevance and reputation of each of these top pages must be greater than those on lower pages.
It is possible to maximize the on-page relevance of your webpage for a keyword (phrase). The keyword should appear in:
- Page Title.
- Body text – perhaps a few times.
- H1 and H2 tags.
- Alt tags of images.
There are programs such as Internet Business Promoter and Website Auditor that can provide insight.
However, relevance also includes:-
- Synonyms and words that Google might expect in association with the keyword.
- Keywords, synonyms and associated keywords in the anchor (linking) text of incoming links.
The idea that you will be able to optimize your webpage to be even more relevant for your keyword than your top competitors is at best wishful thinking.
To be relevant for a keyword, a webpage needs to have the keyword in the page title and text on the webpage. We can assume your top competitors will be doing this.
Reputation is about links from other websites to your webpage in particular and to your website in general. The PageRank of a webpage is Google’s indication of the total value of the incoming links to a webpage. The PageRank of the HomePage of a website is the best indication we have of the total value of incoming links to a website.
Total Webpage Reputations – (For those who like maths)
The total page reputation of a webpage is the sum of the PageRank of the webpage and of the HomePage of the Website. When it is the HomePage of the website that is competing for the keyword, it receives a PageRank boost to 4.5.
PageRank is on a logarithmic scale. The step from PageRank 3 to PageRank 4 is much greater than from PageRank 2 to PageRank 3.
Even if it is possible to achieve high relevance for a keyword with on-page optimization, a new webpage will have a PageRank of 0.
The averaged Total Page Reputations of the pages on the top page of Google for a keyword provides the best available indication of keyword difficulty.
Whilst it does not look at relevance, we can assume that the top competitors will be highly relevant. Even if you can make your webpage highly relevant, its ability to achieve top page positioning for a keyword will depend on the Total Page Reputations of your top competitors.